About Me

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I'm a mom, but I am also so much more. I'm a wife, I work, cook, shop, craft, try to stay healthy, keep up on the latest technology, and style trends, and much more! Come join me in my adventure of making a new blog that allows us to share the everyday things (ups and downs) that turns living an everyday life into living a lively life!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Natural VS Organic VS Healthy….. What is a mom to do?

After my little yogurt ordeal in the grocery store the other day I got to thinking about healthy eating and the challenges that moms face when having to provide their children with healthy foods in such a challenging time.

We all want to feed our kids the best. I know when my daughter was born I wanted to give her the most 'organic' and 'natural' foods I could. Especially when first introducing solid foods that first year. When we switched to milk I vowed to buy the good stuff (lets rephrase that, I bought the expensive stuff) so she wouldn't get hormones and all those other "terrible" things that I read about as a new mom…..

Here is a study from Stanford about organic vs regular produce…. I consider Stanford a pretty good source. I was surprised by this study. https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2012/09/03/research-shows-little-evidence-that-organic-foods-are-more-nutritious-than-conventional-ones/

Fast forward 4 years…. I am still trying to provide healthy foods for all of us but i feel like i am fighting a losing battle. Between living on a budget and the cleverness of the advertising companies along with limited time (I am a full time working mom) and a host of other things in life.

We are not the prime example for organic healthy eating……  However, we are not unhealthy either.

I'd say we fall right in the middle. I decided to do a bit of my own web research and share some tips on how I balance todays mass produced foods with some healthy choices for my family.

1. We decided to purchase our beef locally from a farmer who raises and slaughters his own cattle. The cattle are very well cared for. Raised in small numbers. Hormone free. Feed a primarily grass diet with supplementation of oats, hay, and other healthy materials during the winter months. Let me tell you, I have never liked red meat. This meat is phenomenal!

2. We garden during the summer. We have a 4'x8' raised garden bed and we grown lettuce, tomato, spinach, carrots, strawberries, lots of herbs and more. (we tried beans and peas but I can't seem to win the war against aphids.) Gardening is easy. Gardening is fun. Gardening is a great way to get your little ones outdoors and involved so they see where food comes from.

3. I read nutrition labels carefully at the store.

4. I cook as many meals as I can during the week
To me this means: We don't eat out often and don't microwave or heat up boxed dinners. I don't make everything from scratch, but I find ways to incorporate as many fresh and healthy ingredients as I can while still making it in a doable amount of time.

5. I balance my choices knowing that sometimes life isn't going to be perfect and we will occaisonally eat at a fast food restaurant, occasionally make boxed mac and cheese (see how i make mine a bit more healthy here), and yes, sometimes I will give in and buy a food because my daughter sees the cartoon character and begs for it and at the moment it makes my life easier.

I would love to be super mom and serve only the best but there is no such thing as 'supermom'. There is just me and I know that the decisions I make for my family in the moment are the best I can make at that moment. The older I get and the more life experience I have I realize how hard life is. I try not to judge other moms and I hope other moms don't judge me. If we all look into our hearts and know that we are doing the best we can for our families in the decision we make today then we are doing good.

In todays world, I feel like healthy isn't a place one can be but instead it has to be a goal that we strive for.

What choices do you make that make your families food choices a little healthier each day?

Some other resources for you to check out:

a great blog about a mom and her move from feeding her son all organic and her quest for knowledge about todays pesticides and todays foods. http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/the_kids/2014/01/organic_vs_conventional_produce_for_kids_you_don_t_need_to_fear_pesticides.html


here is a great ABC news piece on how labels can deceive:

In my mind Mayo Clinc is a pretty good place to get healthy and medical information. Here is a piece they wrote about foods:

Flying Pony Activity

The latest Disney Family Fun magazine had a Rocket craft activity that was really cute.  Unfortunately my 4 year old girl isn't really into rockets, however, My Little Pony is WAY COOL to her right now….. 

So I adapted the craft just a tad to make it a flying pony craft. 

-My Little Pony printable clip art (approximately 4"x6"size each)
-toilet paper tube
- Two 6 foot pieces of curling ribbon cut 

Step 1
 Print and cut out Ponies

Step 2
Glue onto opposite sides of the tube

Step 3
 Thread the curling ribbon through the tube.

Step 4
     One person quickly pulls their arms apart so the tube zips along the ribbon to the other side. If playing with a friend, the other person now repeats the action while the first person brings their hands together to return the tube to the other side. Continue to repeat.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Make a mommy friend and keep her…… and other advice from a great source.

A few of my friends shared the link to this post. I read over it and thought it was good, but after tonight I really realized how true #4 is.

I became friends with a woman with while we were both enrolled in the same birthing class (both of us 1st time parents) and our daughters happened to be born two just weeks apart. In the last 2 years we've reconnect and become even better friends because our daughter now attend the same school.
She called me needing a friendship moment, I meet up with her tonight and she ended up giving me just as much support as I gave her tonight.

Good mommy friends are a blessing somedays and lifesavers other days!

Worth the read for the humor but know that there is truth to all 10 of these too.


 The following was blogged on scarymommy.com. I strongly encourage you to check out her blog. She has some humorous and great truths about parenting and mommy hood. 


Maragine vs Butter....

Piggy backing on the idea of misleading advertising....
Margarine is often marketed to be better than butter....
However, I only use it when making "real" pie crust (Simply because real butter just doesn't work. Although I do have a great gluten free pie crust recipe that doesn't use margarine.)

We went back to real butter for everything else several years ago!

Look at this picture about the process of manufacturing margarine and maybe do a little research. What do you think?


Friday, April 11, 2014

False Advertising Frustration

I went to the grocery store the other day to pick up a few things and I was going to get yogurt for my kid. Yogurt is good (aka healthy) snack for a kid, right? My daughter was with and asked (begged) for the yogurt 'tubes'. 
While glancing at the option she spots Miss Piggy.
Well played advertisers one for you none for me......  
Next to it was the Simply GoGurt and On the label it reads...
-No High Fructose Corn Syrup
-Good Source of Calcium & Vitamin D
-Natural Colors and Flavors
Look at all those amazing words making my mind tell me how much better this box of yogurt!
"Well shoot" my mind says, "it must be healthier than the other yogurt." 

"BUT MOM I want Miss Piggy Yogurt." says my daughter.
Ok time to investigate. Time to really read the labels.

Will it have less sugar since it has no high fructose corn syrup? 
Less calories or fat?

Nope, each have 9g of sugars, and all the other nutrition facts are exactly the same in both products.

So what makes the Simply GoGurt any healthier or better than the other yogurt. I am a mom that wants to make good healthy choices for my child.....

Keep reading the label.... We are now down to the fine print on the bottom half.
All the % of vitamins are the same in both products....

They both start with low fat milk and ingredient #2 in both is Sugar, then modified corn starch, gelatin, tricalcium phosphate*, vegetable juice (for color), Potassium sorbate** (for freshness) Carrageenan*** (for thickening) Vit A, and Vit D.

*Calcium phosphate is also a raising agent (food additive) E341. As a mineral salt found in rocks and bones, it is used in cheese products. It is also used as a nutritional supplement.

**Potassium sorbate is used to inhibit molds and yeasts in many foods, such as cheese, wine, yogurt, dried meats, apple cider, soft drinks and fruit drinks, and baked goods

***are a family of linear sulfated polysaccharides that are extracted from red edible seaweeds. They are widely used in the food industry, for their gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties. Their main application is in dairy and meat products, due to their strong binding to food proteins

THESE PRODUCTS ARE EXACTLY THE SAME THING. The only difference in the product is that the boxes are different! I was actually upset when I made this conclusion. The advertisers are making my think I am buying a simple healthy yogurt when in fact it is the same exact sugary yogurt as all the others.

Do you have stories about being "duped" by adverting?

Time to hunt for a new yogurt!
What yogurt do you buy?

Starting Kindergarten...

I'm am one of those parents facing the dilemma of  when to have my child start kindergarten.....

The question I have for all of you is: Is it ok to start kindergarten very young or is it better to wait a year? As a starting point, I am basing the "cut off" on my local state standard. According to the Illinois School Code, children who will be 5 years old on or before September 1 may begin school. Based upon an assessment of a child's school readiness, a school district may choose to permit a child to attend school prior to that date, or it may choose not to do so. In a school district operating on a year-round school basis, children who will be age 5 within 30 days after a term starts may begin to attend school that term.  (http://illinoisearlylearning.org/faqs/kinderentryage.htm)

Currently my daughter goes to a private preschool/daycare that serves children ages 3-5 years old. About half of my daughters current preschool class will be going on to kindergarten at various schools (this is a private church based school so the children will most likely go to several different schools since they all live in different areas of the town) and the other half will attend the preschool/day care program again next year. She would know no difference if she attended again vs going on to kindergarten since they mix up the classes every year. 

My daughters birthday is right on there at the cut off and I know she is smart enough to handle kindergarten but my concern is with the social and emotional ramifications down the road. What happens when she is has just turned 15 and many of her classmates are going 16 or 16+.

The differences in the physical and metal pressures that a child faces in today world are rather daunting. I know this for a fact. I have spent the last 10 years working daily with Jr high and high school students. I know what they talk about, I know what they do, and it can be rather scary sometimes.
So back to my question: Is it better to be the youngest in ones class or the oldest. Not necessarily worried about her being academically ready, she's a smart little lady. What about jr. high and high school? Emotional and social ramifications?

I scoured the web looking for research and found lots of info related to the early academic abilities of children who where or were not held back for a year before beginning kindergarten. During my research I learned that waiting a year for your child to start kindergarten has its own term, redshirting. There are tons of interesting studies out there. So many studies talked about academic success in elementary school, performance in early elementary school, behaviors and ramifications in early elementary school based on preschool and kindergarten enrollment. There were also a lot of studies about children being held back in kindergarten after they were not ready to advance to first grade.

The problem I came across was that there were not many articles that talked about long term emotional and social affect of being the youngest or oldest in your high school class. I'm not worked about her academic success. I'm concerned about the peer pressures she will face as the youngest in her class vs being older.

Can anyone point me in a direction of some research? Can you share your thoughts or your experiences?


Link to another mom asking the same question:




Cleaning Crayon Off A Fireplace Hearthstone

It was bound to happen... My daughter colored on the hearth stone of the fireplace a.k.a. my husbands #1 pride and joy project of all time. 

What do I d!?!?! Well I don't tell him of course....Instead I run to the computer and Google how to "clean crayon off stone" and "how to clean a stone fireplace", etc... Search like mad to for a way to easily and quickly clean up the mess.

This is actually the after picture. I was so freaked out when it happened I didn't take time to do a 'before' picture.
Unfortunately the most popular solution to getting out wax is to use a paper bag and an iron. I was not doing to dare do that. I knew that it would just melt it into the stone and make it worse. (Although side note if you ever have candle wax or melted crayon on carpet or fabric, the iron and paper bag  method does work! I speak from experience.)
Other popular suggestions:
Scrape it off (-this was the first thing I tried and it didn't work!)
Soap and water (-not going to work, I don't even have to test this one)
WD40 (-eeehhhhh, I don't know if I should spray it on the porous stone.. might soak in and affect it)
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (-tried it, didn't work)
Various random chemicals (-same comment as WD40)
NONE of these were going to work....
Then I had an aha moment. Stone is rough, what if I found another rough yet gentle material to
"sand" off the crayon. I had some steel wool and I crossed my fingers and prayed.

As you can tell it leaves a bit of a mess. A gray dust on the edges of your 'sanding' area. But all the crayon came off!!!!! I used a dust pan to sweep up the gray dusty stuff and it was as good as new! Couldn't tell there had been a crayon anywhere near it!

So next time you child gets near a stone or brick surface with crayons try using steel wool.
It worked miracles for me!

New Endless Numbers App

I posted before about the Endless Reader App. Well, the creators of that app have come out with a great number app called "Endless Numbers".

Great animation and fun interaction, all while teaching numbers and basic mathematic principles.

You can download the app for free and it comes with activities associated with numbers 1-5. The rest of the numbers are 'locked'. For $3.99 you can download numbers 6-25. Let me tell you it is worth the price! I struggled with math all during school so if I can do something that helps to start those mathematics bridges building in my daughters brain I will do it.
The animation in this are so delightful:

The 'games' are fun and delightful without being repetitive:

The only negative I have is that sound effects can be a bit much after having my daughter play it near me for more than 10 minutes...(but that is what volume control and mute are for right?)

I give this app a 5 Star review!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring Grass Egg Head Project

Making some spring egg heads!

Start with some egg shells. The easiest thing to do is to just break open the top of the egg and rinse the shells out with some warm water. (I did this on a Saturday morning and had some wonderful scrambled eggs for breakfast before doing this craft.

An egg carton makes a great holder for these little guys. I added some faces for fun then let my daughter fill them with potting soil.

Bonus: when you are tired of these little guys growing in your house you can throw them out knowing that they are 100% biodegradable!

I use rye grass seed for these spring grass projects because it is fast growing! Don't be intimidated by how big the seeds are. (Plus my mother-in-law always buys a bag of it for her Easter center piece so she has extra to share with me).

My daughter sprinkled the seeds in and we gave it a little water and we waited....

After 5 days......

After 2 weeks......

The first "hair cut".....

Here is another way I use my grass seed. I plant it in a shallow dis and it grows into a thick lush grass, then I put a little ceramic bunny in it and it makes a great table centerpiece.

3D Butterfly Art

This was a total Pintrest steal. The pin was originally from Etsy but I wasn't going to pay $25 for a project I could make at home.

Cardstock in a range of similar hues
Cricut machine or a punch to cut out shapes

Coat an 8x8 mounted canvas it with black spray paint.

Cut out 15 to 20 of each butterfly in each shade at 1" each.

Use small Glue Dots to adhear the paper to painted canvas. If you use regular glue the paper may, and probably will, fall off easily.

To make the process faster I put multiple butterflies on the glue dot strips at once so I could work faster.

I chose to make a heart shape. You could make this become any shape you'd like. Start by placing one in the bottom and then work your way up using each hue.

When I got to the top I had a few butterflies "break off from the pack" and fly away. Just for a fun effect.

Finished product.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Product Review: Eye Creams

This week as I was putting on and taking off my make up I was thinking how much I love my current eye creams. My new morning eye product was recommended to me by a friend and I am so glad I took her advice. It is currently one of my favorite products!

Garnier Skin Renew Eye Roller
I am unfortunately one of those people that no matter how long or how well I sleep, I wake up with really puffy eyes. Makeup can cover dark circles, but no amount of makeup that I have found can cover puffy eyes. This little roller and the "magic" liquid inside bring down that puffiness to almost un-noticeable!  I use this on an almost daily basis. It feels so cool and refreshing going on and really does work wonders. Sometimes after a long day I will give myself a few extra minutes to give my face a good scrub or maybe a mask (a time and luxury that doesn't happen often) and will use this too because it just feels so great. Thumbs up and high recommendations for this. Best part off all this is available at your local store. No need to go to a specialty makeup store for this. Wal-Mart carries it for around $10. :-) 
Here are some reviews on the other eye creams I have tried:
Bare Minerals Firming Eye Cream
I love Bare Mineral products and have rarely been disappointed in the results. However, this is one of the few things that didn't work for me. It was a nice cream, went on smoothly, didn't' leave a greasy feel, but it didn't do anything noticeable for me. :-(

Organics GinZing Eye Cream
This one I was so psyched about. I did all the research and read tons of customer reviews. I had a gift card so I allowed  myself to splurge and spend the extra $ on this one.... Wasn't happy. After 2 months of use and being half way though the jar I saw no results. It smelled good and thats about all it had going for it in positives. If you applied it too thickly it left a chalky residue and I hadn't noticed any results. I usually use a products all the way through to give them a chance to work (unless I have a sever reaction to it).... but am tossing this one out and going back to the old stuff.  :-(

Bare Minerals Renew and Rehydrate Eye Cream
This is the "old stuff" I just referred to above. I tried this about 3 years ago and this is probably equal with Garnier Skin Renew eye roller. I used this on an almost nightly basis and could really see the difference. What really hit home with me was when ran out and went a week without it. Suddenly I noticed they my eyes seemed more wrinkled and puffy and all around less youthful. Using this stuff on a daily basis really did make my under-eyes look much better. From now on this stays in constant supply in my home! :-)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Kids vitamins....

I am on the fence about making my daughter take a daily vitamin. Some days she takes a vitamin and some days she doesn't. I am blessed that she isn't too picky when it comes to eating and gets a good balanced diet so I'm not worried.
However, After reading an article titled, "Top Children’s Vitamins Full of Aspartame, GMOs & Harmful Chemicals" (published on July 18, 2013 by Arjun Walia) Link to article here
I had to stop and think. Do I really know what is in my child's vitamin? Can I trust that if I grab one of the shelf at the local store that everything in it is ok for my child to ingest?
I do recall the days as a child when I took a daily Flintstones vitamin. It didn't hurt me, at least that I can tell..... but maybe I need to reconsider what I buy for my child.
I'm not rushing to jump on the all 'natural holistic wagon'.... but I'm not in the 'nothing can hurt you' club either. I think a lot more studying and research need to be done to see what are the long term consequences of ingesting these various substances. Maybe in the mean time I will look more carefully at the ingredients in my child's vitamins and select something that I feel ok with until I can see long term studies on some of the ingredients.
Do you have your child take daily vitamins or supplements? 

What are your thoughts on this?
Click to link to my Facebook page and share your thoughts

Original article and materials related to  "Top Children’s Vitamins Full of Aspartame, GMOs & Harmful Chemicals" (published on July 18, 2013 by Arjun Walia) were found on the website: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/07/18/top-childrens-vitamins-full-of-aspartame-gmos-harmful-chemicals/

Kid activity…Pintrest idea-Try and Fail.

I tried to make one of those cool layered density bottles with my daughter thinking it would be a cool way to teach about different substances and also just a really cool thing to look at….

The directions and other types of bottles can be found on http://familylicious.com/layered-density-discovery-bottle/

We did not have all the items so we opted to use only 

First pour in…
1. Corn Syrup
2. Dawn Dish Soap
4. Colored Water
5. Vegetable Oil
I wish I would have taken a before picture… the syrup and soap stayed separate, however, the colored water and oil were starting to mix. My daughter added some sparkly stars and little buttons. Then she had a blast shaking….

Here was the issue, after the fun was had she set it to the side to let it settle and separate.

36 hours later and we are still waiting for it to separate…..

Note: I threw away the bottle and accidentally deleted the picture from my phone before I posted this so unfortunately I can't show you what it looked like. But its not hard to picture,  just imagine a 1 liter bottle full of dark blue oil water and soap mixture... :-(